Sir Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”. But for understanding the past we would not have the lighthouse of knowledge and understanding upon which our future to guide.
Early civilization developed and evolved as discovery occurred by happenstance, curiosity, and the will to find a better way. 10,000 years ago, as hunter gatherers transitioned to agrarian potentials through the long earned knowledge that cultivation of crops enables a more stable food supply (that they did not need to chase), the seeds of modern civilization were born. Towns and cities developed, and by 6000 years ago, the cradle of civilization was gathering steam in a garden of Eden known as Mesopotamia.
Born of this new reality, civilization began to take shape and reform itself in the mirror of its own reality. New social laws and rules allowed for the development of new types of social organization. Writing and hierarchy developed hand in hand. Knowledge was power. New knowledge beget new power. The speed of discovery was accelerating.
Empires were born. Persia, Asia, Europe. And civilization was discovering itself though its idea of nature. Between what humankind could see, and the unknown; religions and philosophies were considered in relation to the earth, the stars, and human understanding.
Zarathustra, and the ascending line of wisdom followed, reaching toward the birth of democracy: Aristotle, Pericles, Socrates, Plato. Upon these foundations modern thought has sprung. Centuries passed and humans spread far and wide across the plains, the oceans, and here we stand, on the precipice of the future.
Still between the past and the moment, mankind struggles between his nature and his potential. It is through knowledge and understanding of the past that we can see more clearly our reality, our potential, and our fallacy. Many missteps have been made. Excursions into myopia for want of power or prestige. Aristocracy, meritocracy, democracy, republicanism, attempts to balance the difference between chaos and control.
Where are our finer moments but in the jewels that have momentarily sparkled in the history of mankind. Tyrants, leaders, kings and presidents that have shown mercy and honor, or brought tragedy and pain.
Consider the past not to learn to overpower, but to embrace the better potential of mankind that we may overcome the challenges of the future that we certainly will face. For it is our ignorance and naivete that throughout history has led to more difficulty, and it is through consideration and care that we have overcome such trials and tribulations.
Consideration and understanding of what we have, what we are, what we know, and understand… hopefully will help us to see more accurately into the potentials of our future. By exploring these potential futures through the past, we might improve through reason, our chances at mitigating the difficulties that are to come. But history has also shown us that we forget easily, and repeat our mistakes. The question remains, will we learn enough to make a meaningful difference?